These 10 whimsical Japanese words have no equivalent in English

Anyone who has ever visited Japan will describe the beautiful scenery, unforgettable culture, and incredible meals they experienced, but there may be some details of their travels too profound to explain using only the English language.

The good news is that while there are plenty of Japanese words with no English translation, those terms may be exactly what you need to explain the indescribable.

Whether it’s taking in the beauty and mystery of the universe or feeling that you’ve eaten yourself to financial ruin, these 10 Japanese words will round out your vocabulary in a very special way.

1. Komorebi


Use this word the next time you take a scenic hike. It describes the look of sunlight filtered through a forest of trees.

2. Yugen

Having a bit of an existential crisis? Use this word to describe your deep awareness of — and emotional response to — the mysteries and beauty of the universe.

3. Shouganai

Drawing on the notion that some things are inevitable or can’t be helped, this word describes the concept of accepting your fate in life.

4. Kuidaore


Every foodie will know the pain of this word — it means to eat yourself to financial ruin.

5. Kogarashi

We’ll need this word in the coming weeks. It describes the cold wind that signals the arrival of winter.

6. Tsundoku

This word means to leave things unused after buying them, like a book abandoned on a pile after bringing it home. Let’s all try to remedy this situation over the holidays, shall we?

7. Age-otori


A word to describe one of the worst feelings in the world: When you look worse after getting a haircut.

8. Wasuremono

You know those items you’ve left on the subway or lost at school? They’re “wasuremono.” *Sobs*

9. Kintsukuroi

This is a practice we would definitely do well to adopt in the U.S. “Kintsukuroi” is the act of repairing broken pottery with silver, gold, or platinum, and appreciating its beauty even more after its transformation.

10. Boketto


Similar to the concept of daydreaming, this word describes an act more akin to zoning out, staring at the sky without any thoughts, or losing yourself to the vastness around you.

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